Men and women are different in many ways, including in their health conditions and treatment. One clear example of this is heart disease. There are drastic differences between prevalent heart disease in men versus women, the symptoms associated with the condition and even the response to medical treatment. So it’s not surprising that the same is true for mental health. It’s clear that when it comes to the average male, not all types of therapy are created equal. But what type of therapy for men is best? Let’s take a look at some of the top contenders.
Gender-Specific Mental Health Considerations
There’s a “gender gap” when it comes to mental health. Both women and men develop mental health conditions, but certain conditions are more prevalent in one specific sex. Let’s take a look at some of the gender differences.
- As adults, women develop depression and anxiety at much higher rates than men. However, men have a higher tendency to develop substance abuse disorders and antisocial behaviors.
- Teenage boys have higher rates of anger issues, high-risk behaviors and suicide than girls. Overall, young boys tend to “act out,” while young girls tend to turn inward.
- There’s still a lot of pressure on men to remain strong and control their feelings. As a result, men often feel less comfortable sharing their mental health struggles or seeking professional help and live with mental health conditions that could be treated.
Considering Gender in Therapy Services
Simply put, men and women should be treated differently in therapy. Ultimately, their sex is an important detail in how they’ll respond to treatment and how they should be approached.
Therapy is highly effective when it’s customized to an individual’s needs, and this includes considering what a patient’s gender means for their therapy treatment. A man may have some of the following needs come up in therapy sessions:
- Understanding that sharing feelings is okay
- Understanding that seeking professional help is a good thing
- Learning that anger is not a healthy outlet for anyone, regardless of their gender
An experienced, empathetic counselor will watch for these signs with their male patients and help them work through them.
Therapy for Men: The Three Best Types
Men who are new to therapy might benefit most from individual therapy types. Group therapy settings, such as family sessions or support groups, may feel too public for a man. Eventually, once therapy has proven effective, a man might warm up to adding group therapy to their individual therapy sessions.
Let’s take a look at some of the individual therapy types that work best for men.
1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT for men is a naturally good fit. Male CBT sessions and female CBT sessions don’t look any different, but the nature of this type of therapy fits the needs of most men.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is when you have one-on-one sessions with a counselor to learn how to change your thoughts, attitudes and beliefs around emotional and behavioral reactions that have been creating challenges in your life. CBT is a preferred type of therapy for treating psychological disorders (such as PTSD and depression) and addiction.
CBT allows the patients to learn and adapt to feel empowered to change themselves. This form of counseling can be appealing to men for the following reasons:
- They still feel like they have control. Sessions often have clear instructions and set goals, and patients can track their progress. Men often feel it’s challenging to step into a therapeutic environment where they’re asked to be vulnerable and totally relinquish control.
- CBT isn’t just about sitting and discussing your feelings — something some men may be uncomfortable with. The sessions are also about learning and problem-solving. For example, someone who struggles with addiction might be asked to identify their triggers or ponder what led them down a substance abuse path.
2. Trauma Therapy
Trauma can happen to anyone — man or woman. It’s estimated that as much as 60% of men will experience at least one traumatic event in their life.
As the name implies, trauma therapy is a form of therapy that specializes in helping patients work through their past trauma(s). And while men are often told to push their feelings down, stay strong and act unaffected, trauma is just as challenging for men as it is for women.
Trauma therapy can be a good fit for men for the following reasons:
- For some men, it may feel easier to accept help due to a traumatic incident than to admit they have a condition that needs addressing. Dealing with trauma is simply recognizing that something happened to them.
- Trauma therapy can be perceived as having an “end.” Once the person has fully processed the trauma and learned how to heal and cope, they can stop trauma therapy. Once again, this can be less intimidating to a man versus “standard” therapy, which has an unclear definition of “ending.”
3. Motivational Interviewing
The last type of masculine behavior therapy that speaks to men is motivational interviewing. This counseling style focuses on helping patients enhance their motivations to change their behaviors. It’s often used to treat addiction and anxiety disorders.
Motivational interviewing may be appealing to some men because:
- It’s a type of therapy that comes with clear steps and objectives. The four pillars of motivational interviewing are engage, focus, evoke and plan. The patient feels in control of their treatment plan and progress.
- It’s a less popular style of therapy, which can make some men feel less like they’re receiving “formal” counseling.
Encouraging Men to Seek and Engage in Mental Health Treatment
Ultimately, only the patient can decide what type of counseling works best for them. Sometimes, patients need to test out a few different types of therapies to determine the best option.
The more significant challenge for men is accepting that they can benefit from therapy at all. Many men still operate under the misguided assumption that it’s not masculine to get help. One of the bravest and strongest steps a person can take is to ask for help. Seeking help is never easy for anyone. But it takes a wise, courageous man to be honest with themselves and acknowledge that there’s room for growth.
FHE Health Offers Therapy for Men
At FHE Health, we offer a wide range of therapy services so each patient can find the program that suits their needs. Our compassionate staff understands how hard it can be for men to come forward. It all starts with a request for help, so let us help. Contact FHE Health today to find out more.